Views on the News: Netanyahu's speech
Last Tuesday, Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu addressed the U.S. Congress about the ongoing negotiations between the P5 + 1 and the aspiring nuclear Iran. In his address, he urged House Representatives to stand against a deal that would lessen international sanctions on Iran in exchange for a decrease in some nuclear activity. He said “it doesn’t block Iran’s path to the bomb; it paves Iran’s path to the bomb.” Netanyahu’s decision to visit Congress came after an invitation from Speaker of the House John Boehner—but without consultation with the White House—and two weeks prior to an election in Israel. President Obama criticized the initial visit and the speech itself, expressing, “on the core issue, which is how to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon which would make it far more dangerous, the prime minister didn’t offer any viable alternatives.” Netanyahu claimed that he had no interest in encroaching on U.S. politics. How do you react to Netanyahu’s visit, and what do you think should be done to prevent a nuclear Iran?
Prof. Eric Fleisch (NEJS)
Prof. Eric Fleisch is a lecturer in Near Eastern and Judaic Studies.
In the face of constant threats of destruction by the Iranian regime, Israel finds itself at an urgent crossroads. On the one hand, the special relationship between the United States and Israel plays a crucial role in stopping Iran from developing nuclear weapons. On the other hand, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu does not see the current administration as being active enough in stopping Iran. In fact, the majority of Americans also oppose the foreign policy of President Obama. Netanyahu is legitimately concerned about the lack of action in the face of a potential second Holocaust if Iran is able to obtain weapons. And we must remember that all military action of Iran is controlled by its extreme supreme leader, who continues to threaten to wipe Israel off the map. The current deal on the table would allow Iran to maintain thousands of centrifuges and, according to many reports, still be able to enrich the necessary uranium to develop a nuclear weapon within five or ten years. This is not a viable plan. In the words of Netanyahu himself, “No deal is better than a bad deal. Well, this is a bad deal.”
David Schwartz ’16 is a co-president of the Brandeis Israel Public Affairs Committee.
Miriam Fink ’15
A bad deal is worse than no deal. A year has passed, and no negotiations have been made between Iran and P5+1. It seems that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke in front of Congress in order to emphasize the importance of ensuring Iran is nuclear free because Israel and the entire region are at huge risk if Iran develops nuclear weaponry. Although Netanyahu spoke two weeks before the Israeli elections, I do not believe Netanyahu’s act was for political gain: he merely served his people in rallying Israel’s greatest ally in the hopes of preventing an Iranian nuclear program. I believe that the two bills that are being lobbied for now, The Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act of 2015 and the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015, are the best ways to prevent a nuclear Iran as sanctions have proven to work. These two bills urge Iran to enter the negotiating tables, and if no deal is reached by the end of the nuclear talks, Iran will face the consequences: more sanctions. I believe it is abhorrent for a state where the Ayatollah still holds significant power to create a nuclear weapon which, when used, will destroy the entire region. A nuclear free Iran is what most want to see, but the means to this end are in question.